So much in the wisdom of the ages is wrapped up in the basic task of listening.
Whether stemming from the prologue to his famous Rule in which Saint Benedict writes to listen and attend with the ear of your heart, or in current media from popular spiritual leaders advising us to listen (not talk) to God in prayer — the message is clear: the skill of listening is foundational to the health and well-being of any relationship.
The spiritual basis of listening to God extends to our relationships on earth. How shall we listen to others?
In listening to others, I am challenged to try not thinking about how I would say something, only how they are saying it; I am challenged to try not thinking about what an experience would mean to me, only what that experience meant to them (Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection, p.129).
How would this approach to listening affect our bible study when we are tempted to proof-text in order to argue a point? In seminary I was taught that good exegesis aims first to understand what Scripture meant to the original hearers of the text.
How would deep listening affect the way we relate to those who differ from us, politically? Would we show the courage to seek understanding of why someone may believe certain things with which we may take issue?
When we may more easily rush to condemnation and judgement, have we first truly understood from where the other comes, and why?
We would do well to listen.